Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Three-time Oscar(r)-winner Jack Nicholson (Best Actor, As Good As It Gets - 1997, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - 1975; Best Supporting Actor, Terms of Endearment - 1983) and iconic screen beauty Maria Schneider (Last Tango in Paris) star in THE PASSENGER, a cinematically brilliant romantic thriller written and directed by Oscar(r)-winning filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni 1995 Honorary Award (Blow Up, L'Avventura). When a fellow traveler dies suddenly, burned-out journalist David Locke (Jack Nicholson) assumes his identity. Using the dead man's datebook as a guide, Locke travels throughout Europe and Africa, taking meetings with dangerous gun runners and falling for a beguiling young woman (Marie Schneider). But his exciting newfound freedom carries a fateful price as Locke realizes he is in over his head. Featuring a tour-de-force performance by Nicholson, THE PASSENGER won the Bodil Award in 1976 for Best European Film and was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1975 Cannes Fi
The Passenger is one of those movies that is all about the vision of the director, in this case, screen legend Michelangelo Antonioni. Starring none other than Jack Nicholson, and featuring a plot billed as an international romantic thriller, The Passenger defies expectations by turning the genre on its head, making the characters and the story secondary to theme and tone. London-based Journalist David Locke (Nicholson) is working in North Africa when a fellow traveler by the name of David Robertson, who looks remarkably like him, happens to die suddenly. Burned out and depleted, Locke decides to assume the dead mans identity, drops everything, and starts again as a new man with a new life. With no idea of who Robertson was or what he did for a living, Locke uses Robertsons datebook as a guide as he travels through Europe and Africa, takes meetings with people he finds out are gun runners, and ends up falling for a beautiful young woman (Maria Schneider). As Robertson, David Locke thinks he has found an exhilirating new freedom, but the fact is he's in over his head: there are people looking for him and his life could be in danger.
The movie is a thriller in structure only. While designed for suspense, its just a premise for Antonioni to explore on themes of identity, humankinds seemingly futile relationship to the world around us, and isolation. For Antonioni, the action is the means by which the image unfolds, and not the other way around. The actors and the plot are set pieces, simply smaller means to a larger end, and the image and atmosphere supersede all else. A slow pace, long, lingering shots, a focus on emptiness, and a detached, almost brutally objective point of view are the trademarks on full display here. Especially notable is the stunning seven-minute long shot in the final scene, one of the most famous in cinema history, which Nicholson, in his commentary, tags as an "Antonioni joke." It caps a crowning achievement by one of the big screens most visionary directors.
On the DVD:
The commentaries are most definitely welcome guides, and those looking for a way into the movie and into Antonionis head will really enjoy them. Jack Nicholson provides one commentary track where he generously shares his memories of the shoot, his thoughts on the movie thirty years on, and lets out the secret of how they managed to get the camera through the bars on the window for that seven-minute shot in the last scene. On the second commentary track, journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe offer more of a wide-angle lens view of the movie and its place in history. Both are insightful narrativesNicholsons is particularly enjoyable--and make excellent additions to the DVD. --Daniel Vancini
- Commentary by Jack Nicholson
- Commentary by journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 88 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
David Locke (Jack Nicholson, in one of his greatest performances), is a photojournalist working in North Africa. Out of nothing more than boredom, apparently, he steals the identity of a dead man, the only other guest in his hotel. The man, known only as Mr. Robertson, is barely known to Locke. They have had one conversation, and Robertson has said little more than that he is a businessman who travels all over the world and has no family.
Once Locke becomes Robertson, he begins meeting the appointments in Robertson's datebook. It becomes his own personal Michelin guide and sends him all over Europe to gorgeous locations, filmed to their greatest advantage by Luciano Tovoli. In Munich, Locke learns that he is an arms dealer. But, as Jack Nicholson notes in his wry commentary on the DVD, "at least he knows he's selling to the rebels."
Locke keeps all the appointments in the datebook, but the people he is supposed to meet abruptly stop showing up. He is mystified, confused, bewildered. There is trouble and fear in the silence that seems to meet him everywhere. Along the way he meets a young student, "The Girl," played enigmatically by Maria Schneider. She speaks in epigrams, is intrigued by Locke and views the life he has adopted as something of a game.
If we're not who we know ourselves to be, who are we? This is the question Antonioni repeatedly raises, and wisely never answers. One more than one occasion, Locke asks the girl, "what the ---- are you doing here with me?" Her first response is the most telling: "which 'me'?" Repeatedly he pushes her away, whether to protect her from himself, his alter ego or those who might be after either one of them, we can't say. But she remains cleverly steadfast.
There is very little dialogue and not a great deal of action. But the feeling of menace and dread grows more powerful with each reel. And the payoff -- and it's a big one -- comes in the final seven minutes, with a single shot that is justifiably famous. It neatly ties up all the loose ends, although you may not realize it on first viewing. There are technical questions about how this shot was accomplished which the DVD commentaries answer. As with many scenes in many Antonioni movies, the final shot of "The Passenger" appears to say nothing while saying everything. It's just remarkable. No other word will do.
I did not find screenwriter Mark Peploe's commentary to be particulary interesting. He talks too fast, he backtracks, he gets ahead of himself. He has a female friend with him who had no involvement in the film; she doesn't get the chance to say much and when she raises (good) questions, Peploe fails to answer them. I did not finish listening.
Jack Nicholson's commentary -- which I believe he says is the first he's ever done for a DVD -- is quite good. He has owned the rights to "The Passenger" for many years, and it was his choice to re-release it to theatres in late 2005, and then to release it on DVD. Nicholson takes a great deal of pride in having worked with Antonioni. (He remains the highest-caliber actor to have done so.) Jack sounds like he has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, but listen to the words. He's not intrusive, he chooses his words carefully, and he displays great intelligence and sly wit. It is he who says "The Passenger" is "beautifully hypnotic", and he is correct.
This new DVD edition has the "feel" of age (I could never understand why Antonioni used dark titles, same as on his Blow-Up) but is nonetheless very watchable (and listenable!) with brilliant color saturation and nary a noticeable scratch.
Needless to say, a keen sense of "place" and the emotional "distance" we keep from protagonist/reporter David Locke (Jack Nicholson) amidst his developing boredom and burn-out are brilliantly rendered through Antonioni's trademark cinematic sensibility. We see and feel Locke's need for change and are held rapt as he carries out his impromptu plan for self-reinvention. In my opinion, this consistent theme of Antonioni's is as well-performed and technically executed as in any of his films.
From the North African desert to London to Germany and finally to Spain, Locke embraces his newfound identity through unintended political intrigue and a search by his wife and former colleague (who believe his former self to be dead!) while sharing his exploit with a young fellow soulmate and nameless lover (Maria Schneider). The trip is both fascinating and spellbinding.
The denouement is something to behold, not only from a technical standpoint (which is extraordinary!) but from the sheer emotional dispatch we feel upon Locke's ultimate realization. The slowly diminishing "distance" from him we were feeling to that point utterly collapses! We're left feeling strangely as one with Locke, but more detached than ever from a mostly inert and indifferent world.
Any fan of Antonioni's renowned Italian trilogy (L'avventura, La Notte, and L'eclisse) or his wonderfully enigmatic English language masterpiece Blow-Up will certainly enjoy this. I also wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Passenger to the Antonioni uninitiate who wants a more accessible entry in which to explore a unique cinematic vision and language. Though I've yet to hear the commentary track from the screenwriter Mark Peploe and journalist Aurora Irvine, that of the seemingly world-weary yet self-satisfied modern-day Jack Nicholson was fun to hear if not overly insightful.
One of these days I may just give Antonioni's much maligned Zabriskie Point a "second chance"...one of these days.